Curran: Pats manhandled by Lions


Curran: Pats manhandled by Lions

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran DETROIT - A porous offensive line and a permissive secondary were a bad combination for the Patriots in Detroit Saturday night. In what's normally the showcase preseason - or at least the one taken most seriously - the Lions riddled New England's secondary for 272 first-half passing yards and took a 27-10 lead into halftime en route to a 34-10 whipping of the Pats. Matthew Stafford went 12-for-14 for 200 yards with two touchdown passes and backup Shaun Hill came on to go 5-of-9 for 80 yards and another touchdown. And it wasn't all Calvin Johnson. He had one catch for 30 yards. The rest of the Lions wideouts took advantage of a muted Patriots pass rush, some brilliantly placed throws by Stafford and some miscommunications and bad play in the secondary. Corner Kyle Arrington was beaten for two scores - one on a missed jam on tight end Tony Scheffler, another on a slant to Nate Burleson. Corner Devin McCourty was beaten three times on completions (one was a terrific adjustment by Johnson) and was also beaten on an end-zone fade that was dropped. Linebacker Jerod Mayo got beaten on back-to-back completions at the end of the half. The first, he was singled up on a running back. On the second, he appeared to think safety Patrick Chung should have been giving support. Bad as the secondary was, the work of the Patriots offensive line was more troubling. It was a half-long jailbreak in front of Tom Brady who went 11 of 20 for 142 yards and one 44-yard touchdown to Wes Welker. Brady was sacked twice and hit several other times. Right guard Sebastian Vollmer had a loooong half dealing with a rotation of rushers off the right side. Nate Solder, in at left tackle after Matt Light got the start, got bull-rushed and tossed at Brady's feet on the quarterback's one pick. Brady had no time to complete any passes to outside receivers. Chad Ochocinco was targeted once. That was the pick. Deion Branch saw no passes his way. Taylor Price had two balls thrown to him. Welker actually appeared to suffer a shoulder or neck injury when making the tackle after the pick. Trainers checked him out when he came to the sidelines. Welker didn't make it back in the second half with what was described as a neck injury. It wasn't a great half for Ocho who also had an offensive hold that wiped out a 15-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski. He also had a drop in the third quarter on a simple in-cut thrown by Brian Hoyer who came on in the third. Even when not pressured, Brady wasn't especially sharp. He missed Welker on a seam route that he normally makes with ease. Right guard Dan Connolly left after two series with an apparent injury. His replacement, Rich Ohrnberger was turnstiled time after time. Among the missing for the Patriots on Saturday night were corners Leigh Bodden and Ras-I Dowling, defensive linemen Mike Wright, Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis, linebackers Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher and running back Shane Vereen. Brandon Tate, back after missing last week's game in Tampa, had two kickoff returns for a total of 27 yards. James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather got the start at the safety spots. The Patriots opened with a 4-2 set with five defensive backs.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32


Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.